Washington Irving (Hardcover)
Three Western Narratives (LOA #146): A Tour on the Prairies / Astoria / The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (Library of America Washington Irving Edition #3)
Library of America, 9781931082532, 1024pp.
Publication Date: January 26, 2004
Irving’s own encounter with the West came in 1832 when he accompanied the Commissioner of Indian Affairs on a month-long journey to what is now eastern Oklahoma. His account of that trip, A Tour on the Prairies (1835), described wild landscape, rugged inhabitants, and dramatic chases and hunts with an eye for romantic sublimity and a keen appreciation of the frontiersman’s “secret of personal freedom.”
After the success of his first western book, Irving undertook to write the history of John Jacob Astor’s ultimately failed attempt to establish a fur-trading empire in the Northwest. In Astoria (1836), he created a sweeping epic of exploration, commercial enterprise, and “contest for dominion on the shores of the Pacific,” drawing on Astor’s rich archive of materials and enlivening it with his flair for vigorous storytelling.
In The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837), Irving focused on a single memorable figure—an army officer and fur trader who may also have been an American spy tracking British ambitions in the far country—to reveal the flavor of frontier life in the Rockies and beyond.
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About the Author
James P. Ronda, volume editor, is retired H.G. Barnard Professor in Western History at the University of Tulsa and the author of Jefferson’s West: A Journey with Lewis and Clark and Astoria and Empire.